What makes the Tuscan diet unique is its secular consumption of unsalted bread. Simple bread with a rustic appearance, crunchy crust and a very holey middle, requiring long and careful, equally lengthy baking. The custom of not using salt in the dough dates back to the 12th century when Pisa blocked the salt trade to the rival Florence and the people did their bread without salt. It is made with soft-wheat flour kneaded with water and yeast. It comes in various sizes in oval-rectangular or round loaves, the crust is golden, crispy and crunchy, the inside is white. Also called “silly bread” it is present throughout the region even if each area has its own version.
A bit different, slightly salted is the bread made in Montegemoli, a cozy hamlet not far from Volterra, famous for this product in the whole region . This bread preserves all the principles and the appearance of the one produced in ancient times in the countryside.
It is made using an Italian type-2 flour that contains the ashes from grinding, fiber and wheatgerm, giving this bread a wonderfully rich fragrance and flavor. Perfect for legumes and vegetables soup, or used in starters (bruschetta) and served with traditional Tuscan cold cuts. It also pairs well with main dishes and red or white wines.
Pane di Montegemoli is a round-shaped bread with a dark yellow color and fragrant aroma. It’s soft and weighs between 1.7-2kg. Flour, water, salt and yeast are kneaded in an electric mixer. Its unique shape comes from a special mould. The bread is left to rise for 4-5 hours on wooden boards covered with linen cloths and finally baked in a wood-fired oven for 30-40 minutes. After baking, the bread is placed in baskets and sold to retailers the next day.
The company Panificio F.lli Martini producing the bread is based in Montegemoli and bakes 600 loaves a day or around 1,800 tonnes a year. This production is sold locally but mostly in the whole Tuscany.